Monday 9 May 2011

Happy Birthday to a Great Country

Sixty-three years ago today, on 5 Iyar in the Jewish calendar (14 May 1948), the state of Israel was reborn. Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day celebrates the day in 1948 when Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion publicly read the country’s Declaration of Independence.

If the 5 Iyar falls on a Friday or Saturday, the celebrations are moved to the preceding Thursday. If the date falls on a Monday (like it does this year), the festival is postponed to Tuesday. Today, Monday 9 May, is 5 Iyar and so Yom Ha’atzmaut will begin at sunset tonight, when 6 Iyar begins.

Israel has much to be proud of. It is the hundredth smallest country in the world, with less than one thousandth of the world’s population, yet what that small country has achieved in 63 is unprecedented. Here are a few facts about Israel (for an even longer list, click here).

Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East.

Israel has more scientists and engineers per capita than any other country and Israeli scientists publish more scientific papers than any other nation. Israelis hold more patents per person than citizens of any other nation. Israel is one out of eight countries capable of launching its own satellites into space.

An Israeli company has developed a revolutionary new drug that could solve the problem of Colony Collapse Disorder that has been wiping out bee communities around the world.

The first cell phone in the world was developed in Haifa, Israel and Israel holds the most High-Tech industries per population. It was there that the first camera chips were used in cell phones, and Israeli companies invented SMS texting and voice mail systems.

The “Xaver 400” and “800” devices show images below rubble and are used after earthquakes to search for survivors, and in hostage situations where the police need to see inside buildings.

“Earthquake Alert”, a home device to give early warning of earthquakes, was developed in Israel, as was “Safety Centre”, a device to assess driving habits and improve them, which has helped cut traffic accidents.

Most of the components of the Windows operating system were developed in Israel. The first PC anti-virus programme was invented in Israel and an Israeli company invented the network security technology behind PC firewalls.

The algorithm code used for sending e-mails was devised by an Israeli who worked at the Ben-Gurion University in Beer-Sheba, and USB flash drives were developed by MSystems.

The world’s first blood bank was built at Beilinson hospital, ten years before Israel was reborn.

Israelis invented a camera that patients swallow to help doctors diagnose digestive tract diseases and save lives.

Babysense, a system that protects babies from the sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) was invented in Israel.

Israel has been responsible for huge breakthroughs in treatment of AIDS.
Israeli scientists have created new ways to fight cancer, they have increased the efficiency of anti[cancer medicines and have developed the first radiation-free method to discover breast cancer.

Researchers at Ben Gurion University are working on a new delivery system for drugs used in cancer and Parkinson’s disease. The drugs are delivered directly to the affected part of the body and, in so doing, eliminates unwanted side effects.

Environmental protection
More than 85% of solid waste in Israel is treated in an environmental sound manner.
Drip irrigation system- invented by an Israeli almost 40 years ago. A major part of resolving the water crisis. Used around the world.

Israel has the record for most solar-powered water heaters per capita- 95% of homes have this technology and solar powered street and garden lamps are very common in Israel. The solar plate recharges throughout the day and at night it illuminates cities and parks.

An Israeli company was the first to develop and install a large scale solar power plant in the Mojave Desert in order to supply enough clean electricity to power 400,000 homes in central and northern California.

Disaster Aid
Israeli teams have often been among the first on the scene after natural disasters across the world. Israel’s significant contribution to relief efforts include earthquakes in Turkey (2000) and El Salvador (2001), and floods in Venezuela (1999) and in Mozambique (2000).

Within 48 hours of the 2004 tsunami off the Indonesian coast in the Indian Ocean, Israel airlifted massive amounts of emergency supplies, together with a team of fifty medical and rescue personnel. The supplies included tens of thousands of bottles of drinking water, 12 tons of food, 17 tons of baby food, nine tons of medicines, blankets, mattresses, beds and electricity generators.

Following the earthquake in Haiti in January 2010, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) were the first to set up a field hospital, from which were treated 1,111 victims, including dozens of children. Israeli doctors performed 317 surgeries and delivered 16 babies in the hospital’s maternity ward; the mother of one of the newborns called her son Israel. Four Haitians were rescued with the assistance of the IDF search-and-rescue team. The 236-member IDF disaster relief delegation left 30 tons (27,216 kg) of medical equipment before departing Haiti.

Altogether now… Three cheers for Israel!

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